Local traditions and culture in Andorra

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Most Viewed Local Customs in Andorra

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    Local culture, language and politics

    by matcrazy1 Updated Oct 29, 2006

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    There is no Andorran language and currency (they use euros). There is no Andorran military force as well (Spain and France are responsible for the defence). Andorran culture is Catalan in essence, since the native-born population of Andorra is Catalan. However there is easily identifiable Andorran culture in folk music and dances (more: follow the link below).

    The official language is Catalan but my Catalan friends from Barcelona told me that some native Andorran use a bit different and strange Catalan. Well, of about 70,000 people living in Andorra only about 1/3 has hold Andorran nationality, most are Spaniards. Is there any other country where its citizens are minority in own country?

    Spanish and French is also widely spoken in Andorra. As for English it works worse. Well, in hotels English is usually used, but in some smaller local restaurants menu is wrtten exclusively in Catalan (often add Spanish and sometimes French) and waitresses can not understand English.

    Andorra is a principality with the President of France (Jacques Chirac in 2006) and the Bishop of Urgell, Spain as co-princes with limited powers that do not include a veto over government acts. The new constitution of 1996 establishes Andorra as a sovereign parliamentary democracy.

    I AT AVINGUDA MERITXELL (AVE.), ANDORRA LA VELLA
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    In red uniforms

    by matcrazy1 Updated Oct 28, 2006

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    Pretty and smiling policewomen of Andorra show off on the middle of some main intersections wearing bright red jackets and caps, white shirts with a tie and black skirts above knee. I had to stop and amaze their very useful job for both local drivers and pedestrians.

    Well, I've got to know that Andorra has no military forces thus can save a lot for local police, I suppose. Andorra's defense is the responsibility of Spain and France but they don't pay for it.

    POLICEWOMAN AT WORK, ANDORRA LA VELLA
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  • dlandt's Profile Photo

    Andorra is Catalan, and very local

    by dlandt Updated Mar 23, 2005

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    Andorra might be its own independent country, but it has the look and feel of a small town.

    Andorra speaks Catalan on its day to day business, but if you speak French or Spanish, you will have little problem being served in one of those two languages. You might find a few limited speakers of English or German, but other languages are going to be out of luck. I did hear Portuguese once.

    Catalan food is the norm, but French food is also readily available. With the eternal exception of lush, rich, heaven-endowed Italian food, very few outside cuisines are represented.

    When you are in Andorra, you don't feel like you are with the international jetset. You feel like you are in a small, conservative town. They don't have strip clubs, bars open all night serving a full English breakfast, walls of souvenier shops etc. They have the amenities and manners of a small town, despite the fact that they have a good tourist draw for skiing and duty free shopping. My impression was, however, that most of the tourists don't come from very far away. Visitors can drive away and be in their homes in a couple of hours.

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  • A stamp for your collection

    by Tobias_Plieninger Updated Dec 29, 2005

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    Andorra has the same regulations like Spain and France.

    The border passing will take a few seconds.

    If you want to have stamp in your passport you can ask the officers.

    They are friendly and will make this rarity possible for you.

    Not many people in the world can say that they have a Andorra stamp in their Passport.

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    Because of it's location -...

    by Helen196 Written Aug 26, 2002

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    Because of it's location - sandwiched in the mountains between France & Spain - it's a bit of a cultural melting pot. Both French & Spanish is spoken so it's a bit of a guessing game when you need to speak to locals as to what language to start with. Most places speak at least a little English so if you're like me and only know the absolute minimum French/Spanish you'll be OK! Both currencies are accepted but I believe that Pesatas offer a better exchange. Not that you can use them after this year - it'll be the good old Euro - hmmmmm....

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  • Catalan is the official...

    by James63 Written Aug 26, 2002

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    Catalan is the official language, though Spanish, and to a lesser degree French, are also spoken. Surprisingly, other than in the hotels and tourist offices, English is not that widespread. (In fact, on the tour I took to Lake Engolasters, the tour guide did not speak English at all!) Try to speak Catalan even a little, it will be greatly appreciated and will make a difference in the way you are treated by the shopkeepers. Also, be all business with the French and Spanish customs inspectors at the borders - they are not fun at all.

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    Andorra is pretty...

    by Kidproton Written Aug 25, 2002

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    Andorra is pretty tourist-friendly most of the time. Whatever you do in Spain or France will work just as well here.

    One note is that 'Clipol' means 'bus'. It's a word that is uniquely Andorran, and can cause some confusion, even if your catalonian is of scholarly level. The first transportation company in Andorra was 'Clemens i Pol' so perhaps that will shed some light on the subject.

    If you don't know it, the official language of Andorra is Catalonian, or Catalan. It is NOT a 'dialect' of Spanish (and people WILL get fighting mad over that point). Catalonians love their culture and heritage very much and can get touchy, especially at bars and especially is Barcelona is losing a football (soccer) match at the time. Anyway, if you don't speak Catalonian, don't sweat it. Spanish and French are spoken almost universally (I have only met one person who didn't speak anything but Catalonian, and he was a tobacco farmer) and many people also speak English, German, and other languages to some degree.

    OH! And don't refer to 'Barrutinas' (the traditional Catalonian and Andorran headgear) as 'Smurf Hats'. Bad form.

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  • Andorra is a country which...

    by SusanneBeck Written Aug 25, 2002

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    Andorra is a country which loves its fetes and popular traditions.

    Most of the fetes and traditions coincide with religious festivals and the natural cycles of the earth:

    -St George's day when roses and books are given.

    -The People's Fete. St John's day marks the summer solstice.

    -The election of the heiress and the little heiress. This is held in Escaldes-Engordany. The heiress represents the Andorran woman.

    -St Stephen's day, the day of the patron saint of the parish of Andorra la Vella.

    -Saint Lucy's Fair. Figures and elements for make the traditional Christmas cribs are on offer as well as typical Christmas products.

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    Cultural life is full of...

    by fga Written Aug 24, 2002

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    Cultural life is full of events which take place all year round thanks to the Principality's infrastructures: the National Auditorium (Ordino), the Government Exhibition Hall (Andorra la Vella), the Lauredian Cultural and Congress Centre (Sant Julià de Lòria), the Theatre of the Comú and the Congress Centre (Andorra la Vella) and the cultural centres in the various parishes.
    Music holds a special place in the Principality's cultural offer with the international jazz festival Andorra/Escaldes-Engordany (July), the classical music festival of Ordino (September), the music and dance seasons of Andorra la Vella (November-May) or the programs of the National Auditorium, the National Chamber Orchestra and the National Choir of Young Singers.
    In the field of the plastic arts, the various galleries, halls and centres in the Principality constantly renew their exhibitions so as to offer a maximum variety of today's artistic currents and trends.
    Tradition is very much present in public events thanks to the village fetes and other popular celebrations throughout the country such as the marratxa (Sant Julià de Lòria), the dance of Santa Anna (Escaldes-Engordany), the contrapàs (Andorra la Vella) or the sardana. The esbarts dansaires are high quality folk-dance groups.
    HERITAGE

    Andorra has managed to preserve through a thousand years of history an architectural heritage of great richness and specificity. The most numerous and interesting of Andorran monuments are of religious architecture. Nowhere will you find so many Romanesque churches and chapels gathered together in such a small area.
    A total of 55 have been catalogued.
    Some can be seen in the pictures:

    -The church of Sant Joan de Caselles (Canillo). An 11th and 12th century Romanesque chapel containing a 12th century Christ in Majesty and a 16th century retable.
    -The church of Sant Romà de les Bons (Encamp). This is part of an exceptionally well preserved mediaeval complex comprising the village of Les Bons, the remains of a fortification and dovecots.
    -The church of Sant Martí at La Cortinada (Ordino). It is a treasure house of 12th century Romanesque murals and baroque retables.
    -The church of Sant Climent at Pal (La Massana). Built in the 11th and 12th centuries, it contains some Gothic murals.
    -The church of Santa Coloma (Andorra la Vella). Built in the 9th and 10th centuries, it is one of the oldest in the country, pre-Romanesque in style and with a 12th century circular bell tower.
    -The church of Sant Serni at Nagol (Sant Julià de Lòria). Sited on a rock. It contains some very interesting 11th century murals.
    -The church of Sant Miquel d'Engolasters (Escaldes-Engordany), a 12th century building with a 17.5 m high bell tower. It contains a reproduction of the Romanesque frescoes now to be found in the Romanesque Art Museum of Catalonia.
    -The bridge at La Margineda (Sant Julià de Lòria). The largest mediaeval bridge in the Principality on the highway to Andorra la Vella.
    -The bridge of Sant Antoni (La Massana). Formerly linked La Massana to Andorra la Vella.
    Other architectural works in the country are:
    -The Sanctuary of Meritxell (Canillo). The complex comprises the remains of a 17th century church built on a Romanesque church and the modern church built after a fire which destroyed the original one. The well known architect Ricard Bofill rebuilt it in 1976.
    -Casa de la Vall, the seat of parliament and the judiciary (Andorra la Vella). Built at the end of the 16th century. A traditional noble house where some magnificent Gothic frescoes of the Passion may be seen.
    On the other hand, Andorra's heritage also includes typical villages in the valleys such as Ordino and Pal which have retained the charm of our traditions.

    TRADITIONS

    Andorra is a country which loves its fetes and popular traditions. These are celebrations which take into account the element of Catalan culture, the geographical site and history.
    Most of the fetes and traditions coincide with religious festivals and the natural cycles of the earth:
    -St George's day when roses and books are given.
    -The People's Fete. St John's day marks the summer solstice.
    -The election of the heiress and the little heiress. This is held in Escaldes-Engordany. The heiress represents the Andorran woman.
    -St Stephen's day, the day of the patron saint of the parish of Andorra la Vella.
    -Saint Lucy's Fair. Figures and elements for make the traditional Christmas cribs are on offer as well as typical Christmas products.

    MUSEUMS

    The Principality holds many museums:
    · Museu Casa d'Areny-Plandolit (Ordino). A witness to more than three centuries in the life of an Andorran noble family.
    · Museu Viladomat (Escaldes-Engordany). Holds the most representative works of the Catalan sculptor Josep Viladomat.
    · Museu de l'Automòbil (Encamp). A selection of 90 cars, 50 motorbikes and 100 bicycles from 1898 to 11950 and a unique collection of miniature cars in iron and china.
    · Museu de Maquetes d'Art Romànic (Escaldes-Engordany). Exhibition of 25 reduced stone and wood models of Romanesque churches.
    · Museu de nines russes (Escaldes-Engordany). 200 Russian 'matrioshka' dolls on display.
    · Museu Iconogràfic/Museu Sant Jordi (Ordino). Presents orthodox religious audiovisuals, 200 volumes of documents and a hundred or so ikons representing orthodox religious art.
    · Museu de la Miniatura/Museu Siadristyi (Ordino). Exhibition of microminiatures from the private collection of Nikolai Siadristyi, the world's best microminiaturist.
    · Museu Postal (Ordino). Shows the postal history of the country through an exhibition of postage stamps and related objects.
    · Museu Casa Rull (Sispony). A house in the parish of La Massana which is typical of Andorran family life at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th centuries

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    Short info about Andorra:...

    by sabe Updated Aug 24, 2002

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    Short info about Andorra: LANGUAGE:Catalan, Frnach and Castillian. ETHNIC GROUPS: Spanish 61% Andorran 30% French 6% Other 3%. MALE LIFE EXPECTANCY: 80. FEMALE LIFE EXPECTANCY: 86. They've got 269 km of highways and they have the French President and a Spanish Bishop helping them rule the country.

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    Visiting Christian Churches

    by aliante1981 Written Jan 12, 2004

    Christian churches - be they Protestant, Orthodox, or Catholic - are a vital part of Europeýs cultural, artistic, architectural, and religious heritage, and as such you are likely (and I really recommend doing this:)) ) to visit many of them. However, most of them are even today not only major tourist attractions, but also religious sites where people come to pray. This is something to be respected, and here are several pieces of advice I would like to give that might help avoid ill-feeling:

    - Dress modestly, covering shoulders and most part of the legs (women in Orthodox churches might be requested to put on something to cover the head);

    - Do not speak loudly - all the descriptions are better either read in silence or given outside;

    - Try not to walk too much during the service;

    - Avoid using flash in your camera near people you see praying;

    - Respect notes that forbid entrance to some parts of the church that are designated as ýfor prayer onlyý.

    Following these simple guidelines helped me when I visited, I guess, more than 1000 churches up to date:)))

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    stopped more than once

    by leo24traveller Updated Nov 24, 2009

    When exiting Andorra, be careful if you are over your limits as you will likely be stopped more than once...especially if you are in a British car! When i left there i was stopped three times, twice at two official stops and once by the gendarmes at the roadside 100m from entering France

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    Sornás, Andorra. There isn't a...

    by Fong-Mantus Written Aug 26, 2002

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    Sornás, Andorra. There isn't a single hotel or restaurant in this village, just farmers and their families.

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    Principat d`Andorre

    by F.Lade Written Aug 25, 2002

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    In my opinion the most common mistake is to drive to the big shopping centers , fill up your car and drive home . Take your time to look around and maybe spend a few days there.
    Principat d'Andorre.

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